Energy—and water—saving upgrades don’t have to put a big dent in your bank account. Making a few small changes around your home can save energy and put more money in your pocket at the same time. Consider one or more of the following energy-efficient home upgrades:
Use water wisely
Water is both a precious resource and a commodity for which you must pay. As you look to minimize your household’s water usage, your first priority should be dealing with any leaks in faucets, showerheads and pipes. Even a one-drip-per-second leak can cost up to $1 a month, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
After you’ve dealt with the drips, you can work on other energy conservation measures. Installing aerators on faucets can reduce water use by 25 to 60 percent.1 Low-flow showerheads are another low-cost way to trim your water bill. The Department of Energy recommends showerheads with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm); faucet aerators should have a flow rate of 1.0 gpm or less. Both aerators and low-flow showerheads are available at most hardware stores, and are easy to install yourself.
Opt for efficient appliances
Appliances can be a big energy drain – but not if they’re used smartly. Even when televisions and home stereos aren’t switched on, they drain power. “We call these energy vampires,” says Andy Farmer, education director of Virginia Energy Sense, a state-run energy conservation education program.
To deal with the invisible energy drain, Farmer suggests plugging these appliances into a power strip that you can switch off when it’s not in use, or investing in a power-saving smart energy strip, which automatically shuts off when not in use.
Larger appliances can be more energy efficient, too. Wait until you have a full load to run your dishwasher or washing machine. And when it’s time to replace an appliance, opt for an energy-efficient model. Appliances marked with the Energy Star label typically use 20 to 40 percent less energy than other new appliances, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Though these models may cost more upfront, the energy conservation generally will save you money in the long run.
Regulate home temperatures
A programmable thermostat allows you to match your heating and air-conditioning systems to your lifestyle. For example, in the winter, you may like to heat your house to 68 degrees in the morning and after school, when the family is home. But during the workday and at night, you can program the thermostat to get 10 to 15 degrees cooler, saving as much as 15 percent on your heating bill, according to Farmer. The same energy-efficiency strategies apply for air-conditioning use in the summer.
Mind the gaps
All those little gaps around your windows and doors can lead to a serious energy drain. A well-insulated house means less air leakage – and lower energy bills. Spend an afternoon installing or repairing caulk and weather strips around windows and doorframes to make sure your house is snug. In the mood to tackle a bigger project? Insulating your attic helps optimize your home’s energy efficiency.